Steal This Foundations Template for Your CrossFit Affiliate

In January of 2014, we posted an article about the importance of having an introductory course at your affiliate before allowing inexperienced people jump into your group classes. Different gyms often call these programs Foundations, On-Ramp, or Elements. While the ethos of our argument behind having this program holds steady, we've since revised our Foundations template and want to provide you with our most current version as well as some of our goals coming into it. As always, the spirit of Inside the Affiliate is to be a free, open-source resource for the CrossFit community. If you like our template, steal it and make it better!

Before going into the details of the template, here is a quick recap of our overarching goals for the programming template: 

1. Through the six classes, expose participants to the all of the staples movements they'll be expected to be familiar with in group classes. This includes explaining every movement from top to bottom, providing scaling and modification options where appropriate and getting everyone's "starting weights" on all the barbell lifts. Then, people can go into group class familiar with the basic execution of each movement, knowing what loads they can start with and move on from.

2. Format the class such that it reflects the basic structure of a group class:

Dynamic range of motion (DROMS)
Standardized warmup-style couple or triplet
Focus lift or lifts

Similarly, we want to provide most of the common workout formats people will encounter in group class, which helps demystify our reviews of workouts at the whiteboard. (Common workout formats being time priority, task priority, every-minute-on-the-minute work, etc.) This makes the transition to group class a bit more seamless and less intimidating if it's an extension of their Foundations experience.

3. Program with as much redundancy as possible from class to class, such that people get multiple exposures to the most fundamental movements throughout the course. We do this by repeating movements from previous classes in the warm-up couplets and triplets. The more practice they get on these movements, the more prepared and confident they'll be for the group class environment.

4. Beyond the "how,” use Foundations as an opportunity to explain the "why" we do what we do, which helps encourage good training habits to optimize their success moving forward. Examples of this include discussing how to listen to your body, training with the long view of gradual improvement, how to approach a lifting segment, how to do pre-class movement prep, why we program the way we do, and providing access to other helpful resources for them to dig into.

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What Makes a Great CrossFit Group Class

Anyone familiar with CrossFit knows that no two affiliates are alike. CrossFit’s fierce aversion to traditional franchise models means that each gym is able to express their community, culture, and training biases however they please. With over 13,000 affiliates worldwide, there is a massive spectrum of class structures and styles—however, there are some fundamental principles which can and should be applied to all CrossFit affiliates.

In today’s article, we’re going to talk about some of the principles that make a great CrossFit group class. For coaches, this article can serve as a due-diligence checklist to make sure you’re providing a professional, inclusive, and effective training session. For athletes, this article will be a helpful resource to give you a sense of what standards you should have for choosing a CrossFit gym. Because different gyms run different programming styles and structure classes differently, we’re focusing today on principles that can be applied to almost any gym.

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How to Give Newbies Their First Taste of CrossFit

Everyone remembers their first CrossFit workout—but for many people, it was also their last. While some people think of it as a badge of honor that they attempted the “Filthy 50” or “Fran” as their first WOD, many non-conditioned folks are thrown into workout like these and spit out. A person’s first CrossFit workout should be appropriately challenging and leave them with the notion that CrossFit is hard, but also scalable and accessible.

In one of our previous articles, “Free Intro Classes at CrossFit Affiliates,” I discussed the importance of running free intro classes at your affiliate and provided a step-by-step breakdown of what we typically do with folks throughout the entire class. If you missed that article, I recommend you read it over so you understand the intent, tone, and importance of intro classes. In today’s article, we’re going to provide some more examples about reasonable workouts you can use in your own intro classes, and we’ll discuss some concepts to help you write your own workouts. 

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Breaking Down Olympic Lifting For New CrossFitters

As mentioned in our article "A CrossFit Coach's Guide to Working With New or Troubled Movers," new athletes are often working semi-autonomously during group class, which requires coaches to triage them while still not ignoring the rest of the class. A quick trick that we sometimes use during our lifting segments for working with people brand new out of Foundations is to breakdown the Olympic lifts into more manageable complexes.

One of the challenges for new people working with Olympic lifts is not only putting the movement together, but also remembering the names of everything. By breaking down the lift and writing it down on a little white board, the athlete begins to internalize the names of all the movements he or she is working on. They can then work on a series of compartmentalized tasks, with visual reminders of everything they're doing. For beginners, performing standardized technique complexes is infinitely more doable than just telling them to "snatch"perhaps the most technically complicated movement we perform in CrossFit.

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Inside the Affiliate, Literally

Today, we want to take you inside our affiliate—literally. We recently added another 5,000 square-feet to CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK) across the street and wanted to find ways to leverage the expansion online. As you may have noticed in Google Maps, you can take a virtual tour of many businesses (it's called Google Street View). I loved the idea of this, and contacted a photographer through Google, who created a virtual tour of our three spaces. You can see them below.

One of great things about CrossFit is that because we're not a franchise model, we have the ability to create our own unique cultures—and our facilities are a big part of that culture. As CrossFit continues to spread, one of the ways we can differentiate ourselves from other affiliates is by showing off our facilities online (ideally you'll be showing that space off on your website). Your online presence can help sway prospective members when they're making the pivotal choice to come check you out instead of the other gym that might be closer to where they live or work. Personally, I know that whenever I'm looking at other gyms' blogs, I always check to see what their facilities look like, which often creates a powerful impression of what they're all about.

It's important to remember that you definitely do not have to have the biggest or best facility out there, but you do need to take care of what you've got. Organize it well, and obviously, keep your bathrooms clean. Be proud of and confident about your space. It makes a huge difference.

Here is our original space, which we call 597 (since the address is 597 Degraw Street):

This is our recent expansion (which has our showers in it!), which we call 608:

This was the second space we expanded into, above 597. We call it "the Annex," and we use it for our CrossFit Kids programming, personal training, and Pilates and yoga classes:

Check out these other gyms that we spotlighted to see their facilities!


CrossFit Preschool: 5 Things I’ve Learned From Working with 5-Year-Olds

By David Osorio, with Janelle Barth

In February of this year, we launched CrossFit Kids (6-8) and CrossFit Preschool (3-5) at CrossFit South Brooklyn (CFSBK). Though I had wanted to launch this program for a while, it took a backseat until our Front Desk manager Janelle—who has a lot of professional experience working with kids and is pursuing her masters in education—expressed interest in getting it started. I'd only dabbled in coaching kids during an internship after college and since I’m the youngest in my family, I didn’t have much experience working with these age groups. Even despite Janelle’s expertise, I was a little nervous—but up for the challenge and excited to expand my coaching horizons.

I’m not the only one who felt this way. At the CrossFit Kids seminar that Janelle and I took, we talked to a number of people with varying ranges of experience that all said they were nervous about running these classes. In today's article, I want to share a few things that we’ve learned since launching our CrossFit Preschool program (more on our CrossFit Kids later), in the interest of letting people know what to expect.

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How to Properly Spot the Bench Press at CrossFit Gyms

I recently visited an affiliate while traveling and the instruction on bench pressing itself was excellent, but there was no mention of how or when to spot. Everyone in the class seemed to be doing something completely different. Some were a mile away from their partner having conversations with other gym-goers, some were hovering over their partners basically tea-bagging them, and one girl was "spotting" her partner by standing next to her. Yes, like next to her—on the wrong side of the bar.

Bench pressing is the barbell lift most of the general population has been exposed to—and more often than not, exposed to incorrectly. When spotting, it's important to teach your members how to do it correctly so that no one is put at undue risk. Partial reps and sloppy set-up positions aside, the worst habits you might see in any given gym are a spotter who either is too handsy—assisting the entire movement and thus invalidating the lift—or a spotter who isn’t engaged and would only have front-row tickets to an accident were one to occur.

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How to Prevent CrossFit Injuries: A Guide for Coaches and Athletes 

This article was originally published on Breaking Muscle

If you’ve ever experienced an injury, you know it can be emotionally devastating. You think the world is ending and you feel claustrophobic in a body that no longer performs in a way you’ve come to expect. As a CrossFit coach, your own injuries (or imagining your way into what such an experience feels like) should cultivate a disposition of empathy for your athletes—which should also lead to taking your responsibility as a coach even more seriously. 

Injury is an unfortunate reality inherent in all rigorous physical activity and no gym will ever be injury-free. But there are injuries I would consider preventable or easily avoided if coaches and affiliates adhere to some basic principles.

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Why Your CrossFit Gym Needs a Front Desk

In the early days, CrossFit South Brooklyn’s “Front Desk” was a broken and badly worn desk I found in the Brooklyn Lyceum, the facility where I was renting space by the hour. On that desk, I kept a pencil pouch with a Post-It note on it that said, “Please leave $20 for class.” There was also a composition notebook where people logged their names as they came in. The pencil pouch was our honor-based payment system, and the notebook was my clumsy attempt at tracking CFSBK’s membership.

This arrangement was the extent of our “Front Desk” for several years until we transitioned over to a software system called Mind Body Online. Then we moved to Volusion, and finally found Zen Planner. Even with the software, and for years after we moved into our current location, our initial point of contact with our membership remained that same pencil pouch full of $20 bills, and our composition notebook upgraded to a three-ring binder.

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Elevating the Push-Up

Here is our second installment in our "Correcting Common Errors With the Push-Up" series! In this video, I discuss two easy ways to modify push-ups for someone who is on the verge or getting their strict push-ups but not quite there yet.

Elevated Push-Ups

If possible, use an adjustable rack so that the athlete can quantify their progress and adjust over time (lowering as they get stronger). Also, for new athletes, set them up at the bottom of the push-up with their sternum on the horizontal support so they can walk their feet out to the exact point they'll need to be at. Often people arbitrarily set up their feet on elevated push-ups and end up incorrectly aligned as they initiate their descent.

Banded Push-Ups 

Setting up a jump stretch band just below their anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) allows them to scale how much force they need to produce in order to move through a full range-of-motion. This is also great for people who struggle with the bottom few inches—where more of their body weight is being shifted toward their arms—because as they descend, the band is stretching out, creating more tension and thus more support as they descend.

We'll be back soon with another ITA video!